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January 2004
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More Silly Season in the UK

One of the nice things about MAP is the ability to see such a large number of articles on the same subject, and Oh boy, are they coming out of the woodwork regarding the re-classification of marijuana in England. In addition to what I’ve already given you:
Neil McKeganey is Professor of Drug Misuse Research at the University
of Glasgow (or was that Professor of Drug Research Misuse?) has a bizarre notion that completely ignores established science on gateway effects:

It is not simply the reclassification of cannabis, though, which might cause concern. Mr Blunkett’s stated intention of focusing on heroin and cocaine might also engender a sense of gloom on the part of those working in the drug prevention field. Why is this? For the simple reason that hardly anybody starts their drug-using career with heroin or cocaine. What they start with, even if they don’t progress to these harder drugs, is cannabis.

Huh? (And I read it twice!)
Tory leader Michael Howard got in some hot water by calling the decision to downgrade marijuana “absurd,” while refusing to say whether he had smoked pot himself. Oops.
Alice Thompson, writing for the Telegraph suddenly sees psychotics and schizophrenics behind every joint (Is that perhaps a factor of British pot? Or just perhaps related to the conflict between the English reserve and pot’s relaxation? Because there’s no science that really supports this, yet this week you can find a British psychotic anecdote at every turn!)
Simon Jenkins with The Times sets things straight a bit with his Drugs Turn the Brains of Politicians into Marzipan, where he lampoons the political waffling and posturing and ends up noting.

My parents were appalled at the thought of a betting shop on every corner. It would surely lead to “addiction”. Somehow they got over it. The same must be done with drugs, all drugs. They must be removed from criminal distribution and their sale controlled and taxed like nicotine and alcohol. Such a proposal is not ideal, merely vital.

The Guardian gave a strong positive editorial:

[The independent commission in 2000] rightly concluded that the decision to place cannabis in the middle category of harmfulness 30 years ago did not reflect current scientific, medical or sociological findings. They did not say it was risk free. There is a danger with all drugs. But they concluded: “When cannabis is systematically compared with other drugs against the main criteria of harm ( mortality, morbidity, toxicity, addictiveness and relationship with crime ), it is less harmful to the individual and society than any of the other major illicit drugs, or than alcohol and tobacco.” The policing of the old law – 300,000 stop and searches a year – has done far more harm than the drug.

And finally, John O’Farrell in the Guardian decides to just laugh at all of this with his entertaining article: Just Say No To Echinacea

Yesterday, before the world’s media, a peace treaty was signed between the British government and cannabis. Hardliners had insisted that there should have been no talks with cannabis supporters until all joints had been put beyond use, until they had laid down their bongs and stopped giggling. …

Now cannabis will be placed on the same level as prescription drugs, with the result that hundreds of people will rush to their doctor’s surgery saying: “I’m going to the Glastonbury festival at the weekend, and I wondered if you could prescribe me something to help me relax?” …
Until recently, 90% of all arrests for possession of drugs were for cannabis. At last our bobbies will have time for more important tasks, such as using their highly sophisticated methods for searching out drug dealers by pulling over any black man driving a nice car. …

It is the more pernicious drugs that the police should be concentrating on. I don’t mean heroin or cocaine or ecstasy, I mean the real social menace: echinacea and arnica and all the herbal remedies that are sold at great expense and don’t do anything whatsoever.

All over Britain traumatised children are being forced to take fish oil while the callous pushers in the health food shop buy another gold-studded collar for their rottweilers and laugh at the gullibility of the liberal middle classes. “Wanna score some more St John’s wort man? It’ll cost you, brother, this is good shit, I ain’t cutting in no low-grade marigold.” Armed police burst in. “This is a raid! Hand over your royal jelly!”

Delightful.

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